Arrive Delhi (3 Nights)
Welcome to India’s colourful capital city, Delhi. At once peaceful and bustling, ancient and modern, Delhi is possibly unlike anywhere you’ve likely ever been before, and needs to be seen to be believed. Where else in the world can you find ancient relics of multiple bygone eras rubbing shoulders with gleaming new shopping malls, whilst hawkers, cows, rickshaw drivers and people all compete for space in the narrow lanes of Old Delhi! Arriving today you’ll transfer to your hotel before meeting up with your Travel Director and fellow guests to learn the lay of the land. Briefing complete, you’ll then be treated to your first taste of Indian cuisines over dinner with the group.
Hotel: The Suryaa New Delhi
The winding streets, lively bazaars and delicious flavours of Old Delhi await you this morning as you head out for a city sightseeing tour. Embrace the hustle and bustle as you experience this real slice of India, then listen out for a collective sigh as you catch your first look at the imposing Red Fort, built by Emperor Shah Jahan during his Mughal reign and serving as the residence of emperors for 200 years. From here we’ll visit the magnificent red sandstone carved Jama Mosque, another pocket of calm and Delhi’s largest mosque. Take your time exploring here before hopping on a cycle rickshaw that will weave you through the lanes of Old Delhi before heading on to New Delhi to experience a different side of the city. Drive past grand government buildings and India Gate before finishing up at Humayun’s Tomb, another relic of the Mughal reign. Rich in memories after a busy day, this evening if then yours to enjoy as you please.
Delhi Free Day
Today gives you the chance to unearth Delhi at your own pace, indulging your own unique cultural curiosities. Foodies, you’ll likely be keen to join our food tour of Old Delhi, where you’ll get to wander through the maze of the old spice market, feeling the heat of a thousand chillies tickling your nose as you taste exotic pickles and sample edible silver. Enjoying lunch with a local family at their haveli, you’ll then visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Qutub Minar. Keen to dive deeper into Delhi’s rich history? Why not choose our optional trip to Nizamuddin, a former 14th century village that developed around the shrine of a Sufi saint. Known for its narrow lanes, tombs, cuisine and spiritual music, you’ll learn more about the area with the help of a local guide from the Hope Project, visiting the stepwell and tomb of ‘India’s Shakespeare’ Mirza Ghalib.
Delhi – Jaipur (2 Nights)
Leaving Delhi behind this morning you’ll venture on the state of maharajas, kings and opulence, Rajasthan. One of India’s wealthiest regions and arguably one of its most beautiful, Rajasthan is a firm favourite amongst visitors for its rich culture, glorious cities and shopping opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled on your way into the ‘pink city’, Jaipur, as you watch daily life unfolding before your very eyes. Settle in to your hotel, then relax or perhaps head out to discover the capital of Rajasthan for yourself. High up on your agenda should be a visit to the City Palace. Nestled in the heart of the Old City, this ornate complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings blends Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, the crowning glory of which are the four ornately painted doors of the Pitam Niwas Chowk, which represent the four seasons. Keen to get your hands-on Jaipur’s famous gems, textiles and handicrafts? The bustling Old City chowks are literally bursting at the seams with goodies.
Hotel: Clarks Amer
Early risers will have the chance to witness a morning ritual of the Hindu community today, with an optional visit to one of the country’s most important Krishna temples to watch as worshippers offer their prayers to Lord Krishna. Back at the hotel you’ll then tuck into breakfast before heading out to visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Amber Fort with the group. Set atop a hill and once the residence of Rajput rulers, this extensive palace of glistening white marble and yellow and pink sandstone is a real gem of Rajasthan. From here you’ll then make a stop at the icon of Jaipur, the Hawa Mahal. Known as the Palace of Winds, this distinctive 5 storied building of glorious latticed windows was built as a way of allowing the ladies of the royal household to watch the comings and goings of the city below. With the rest of the day then free, perhaps opt to join our heritage walking tour for a deeper insight into the culture and community of the Old City. Visit flower markets, silver bazaars and jewellery makers, and sample some of the delicious street food offerings sold on every spare inch of street space.
Jaipur – Ranthambore (2 Nights)
There will only be one question on everyone’s lips this morning as you leave Jaipur behind and head to Ranthambore National Park – will you spot the mighty Bengal Tiger? Claiming 1334 square kilometres of wild jungle, Ranthambore is the best place in Rajasthan for tiger spotting, especially as tiger numbers are now on the rise. Formerly a maharaja hunting ground, there are now around 67 tigers roaming the park, although sightings are not always guaranteed. After settling in to your hotel you’ll head out on your first game drive in the hopes of spotting these beautiful beasts. Travelling through the park with a local ranger, you’ll also have the opportunity of spotting wild boar, sloth bears, hyenas, leopards, monkeys, deer and around 300 species of bird. Whether you spot a tiger or not, be sure to enjoy this truly magical experience before heading back to your hotel for dinner.
Hotel: Ranthambore Heritage Haveli
It will be an early start this morning as you head back into the park for your second game drive. Sunrise is arguably the best time of the day for tiger spotting, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Heading back to the hotel for breakfast you’ll then have time to relax and soak up a few rays by the hotel pool before venturing back into the wilderness for your third and final game drive. Alongside the wildlife, the park also offers a wealth of history, most notable in the 10th Century Ranthambore Fort that’s nestled right in the centre of the park, plus ancient forts, mosques and hunting pavilions that all add to the mystery of this gorgeous land. Dinner tonight will be at your hotel.
Ranthambore – Agra (1 Night)
From tigers to the Taj, today’s journey will bring you one step closer to the undisputed icon of India. Heading out of Ranthambore this morning you’ll stop for lunch at the royal city of Bharathpur, known for its abundance of forts, palaces and lush parks. Arriving into Agra and after settling in to your hotel, your afternoon is free to delve into this bustling city. Perhaps choose to join our optional visit to the UNESCO listed Agra Fort. Another fine example of Mughal craftsmanship, the vivid red sandstone fort dates back to 1565 and comes complete with fairy tale palaces, beautiful gardens and views of the magnificent Taj Mahal in the distance. If city exploring is more your thing, take a wander around the busy chowks to sample delectable Indian sweets and shop for marble goods, head to a rooftop bar and soak up the scene. This evening and to see off those who are heading to Varanasi tomorrow in style, opt to join our farewell dinner for a feast of Indian delicacies.
Hotel: Clarks Shiraz
Agra – Delhi
Today’s the day and what a way to near the end of your trip! Heading out at dawn you’ll make your way to the Taj Mahal to enjoy one of the most memorable sunrises of your life. A thousand times more impressive in real life, watch as the rising sun paints the glistening white marble shades of pink and gold. Described by Rudyard Kipling as ‘the embodiment of all things pure’, the Taj was built by Shah Jahan in 1632 as a testament to lost love for his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in child birth. Heading inside the mausoleum you can walk around the tombs of both Jahan and Mumtaz, whilst exploring the complex you’ll discover the perfect symmetry of the building and perhaps snap a photograph on the ‘Diana seat’. Feeling distinctly in awe you’ll then head back to your hotel for breakfast and a morning of relaxation before making the final drive to Delhi this afternoon.
Hotel: Ibis New Delhi Aerocity
With memories of glistening mausoleums, pretty pink cities and tiger tracks still fresh in your mind, your trip will come to an end today.
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